The Age of the AI-Powered Buyer: 4 Big Shifts Sales Teams Must Know About [Data]

Download Now: 2024 Sales Trends Report
Maxwell Iskiev
Maxwell Iskiev


As we enter the age of AI, one thing is for sure - the relationship between sales pros and their prospects will never be the same.

The age of the AI-powered buyer

When I surveyed 1,477 global sales professionals to determine the top trends and challenges that teams were facing, one key finding became apparent. We've entered, what I call, "The Age of the AI-powered buyer."

In this post, we’ll dig into the data to help you prepare for one of the most disruptive shifts we’ve seen in years.

Download Now: 2024 Sales Trends Report [New Data]

How AI-Powered Buyers Will Change Sales

Before we get into all our insights and predictions from our research, here’s a quick summary of what you need to know about how buyer AI use will change everything:

  • Buyers overwhelmingly do their own research and AI hypercharges their ability to gather information, making them more knowledgeable and confident than ever. They rely much less on sales pros to gather information.
  • This shift frees up sales pros to act as consultants who prioritize building strong relationships, boosting buyer confidence, understanding their needs and challenges, and using AI to offer a highly relevant, personalized experience.
  • Both parties using AI leads to stronger relationships, more productive conversations, and a shorter sales cycle.

how ai will change the buyer experience

With that summary, let's take a look at the 4 big things sales pros need to know about what to expect in The Age of the AI-Powered Buyer.

1. Buyers already do their own research and prefer self-service tools:

Before we get too deep into the future, let’s look at the present. Buyers already overwhelmingly do their own research and are highly knowledgeable before they even engage with sales reps.

In fact, 96% of sales pros say that when they first speak to a prospect, they’ve already researched their product/service. At this stage, most buyers are knowledgeable about the company, the products/services they offer, and how their offering compares to competitors.

buyer research stats

Not only that, but our Consumer Trends Report shows that when doing research on a brand or product, 71% of consumers prefer to gather information themselves rather than speaking to a human.

consumers prefer self service

Now that AI has entered the picture, buyers’ ability to do their own research is hypercharged, leading to major changes in how they gather information and the role of a sales rep.

2. AI hypercharges buyer research:

71% of sales pros say AI will have a significant impact on the way buyers do research.

Using AI for research empowers buyers, making them more knowledgeable and autonomous, increasing their confidence and decision-making ability.

On one hand, this means buyers will rely less on sales reps to gather information. But on the other, highly informed buyers lead to higher-quality conversations with sales pros and shorter and more productive sales cycles.

quotes from anonymous sales reps on AI

Sales pros say buyers using AI for research will make it easier for them to make sales (58%), make their business perform better (58%),  and shorten the sales cycle (36%).

sales pros are optimistic about AI

Overall, sales professionals I surveyed are optimistic about the change, with 43% saying buyers using AI for research will have a positive impact on their sales role, 44% predict a neutral impact and just 13% think it will be negative.

what buyers think about ai research

Still, a period of major change is on the horizon, with 67% of sales pros saying that by 2024 AI will enhance buyers' ability to do research to the point that they will be able to make informed decisions without engaging with sales reps.

With prospects relying less on sales reps for information, let’s take a look at how sales professionals will provide value in the Age of the AI-Powered buyer.

3. As buyers do research through AI, roles will evolve from information sharing to consulting.

I also asked sales professionals in our survey which parts of their role will become most important if buyers use AI to do product research, and selling the actual product came in at #5.

what parts of the sales process will become most important

Instead, sales teams will prioritize boosting buyer confidence, understanding their needs and challenges, building stronger relationships, and offering high levels of personalization

why human expertise is still important in sales

While change can be threatening, 82% of sales pros say building relationships and connecting with people is the most important part of selling and the most rewarding part of their job. Now they‘re incentivized to focus on those aspects of their role.

Let’s wrap up by taking a look at how sales pros will use AI to take their performance to the next level.

4. Sales pros will also leverage AI to boost performance.

We’ve spent some time thinking about the impact of buyers using AI, but sales pros are also using AI and seeing great results.

For starters, our State of AI in 2023 Report found that sales pros using AI save over 2 hours a day. 81% of sales pros say AI can help them spend less time on manual tasks and be more efficient in their role (78%).

AI saves sales professionals 2 hours a day

These time-savings are key, as our survey also found that sales pros only spend around 2 hours a day actually selling and spend about an hour a day on manual/admin tasks.

On top of that, 41% of sales pros use AI to recognize/respond to buyer emotions/sentiment, and 83% of them say it is effective.

Looking to the future, sales pros are optimistic about AI, saying it will allow them to provide a more personalized experience (66%), understand their customers better (66%), and 63% of sales leaders say AI makes it easier for them to compete with other businesses in their industry.

how sales reps will use ai to boost performance

As one sales pro in our survey put it, "AI tools can consider each buyer's unique business needs, preferences, and past interactions to offer tailored product recommendations, increasing the relevance of the information presented.”

AI Creates Better Experience for Buyers and Sellers

To sum up the impact, both buyers and sellers using AI creates a better experience for all through stronger relationships, more productive conversations, and a shorter sales cycle.

While these insights are forward-looking, AI adoption is happening in real-time. To stay ahead of the pack, see our State of AI in 2023 Report and check out the full list of the top State of Sales survey findings here -- or by downloading the full, free report below.

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Topics: Sales Trends

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